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We all know the stereotype that Extroverts are better with people and Introverts are awkward and shy. Many people go as far to say that introverts hate people, or that extroverts are more successful in life (which has been proven false numerous times). But where do these stereotypes come from, and why is it that we find so many people who fit into them?

I remember that when I was in school, extroversion was the expectation of all good children. If you didn't focus on the things and people around you as much, you were a freak. The teachers punished students who failed to work in groups and the parents encouraged their children to avoid "troubled children," meaning introverted ones. As soon as you entered the public school system, you were either a good kid or a bad kid: extroverted or introverted.

Even later in life this continues. When applying to most starting jobs your employer wants to hear that you do well in group work, that you're good at making conversation and that you like being in a crowd. Until you're doing skilled work, you're expected to take an interest in the things and people around you. Once again, the extroverts are put together while the introverts are left doing odd-end jobs or pretending to be someone else. Where have the introverts had much of a chance to learn socialization at this point? They were socially separated from the other kids all the way through college.

The reason I bring this up is that I seriously question the relevance of socialization to extroversion versus introversion. These qualities describe our focus, not how nice or friendly or likable we are, and not how much we like people. Although introverts don't gain as much from social contact, it's usually no big downer to hang out with a few friends, and many of us are perfectly capable of being friendly with strangers.

I met a young guy from the northeast who had gone to a selective private school for math. He was definitely introverted; this person could get completely lost in solving a problem until he forgot there were other people in the room. He needed a fair amount of alone time and had a selective, small group of friends. However, he was very far from antisocial. He was a high-energy, happy, positive person who easily spoke with strangers at work and outside of it. Everybody grew attached to this guy, even many strong extroverts, since he was so confident and socially adapted. What made this person stand out against all the other introverts in the room? The school he had gone to growing up was so focused on education, that extroversion was actually discouraged. He described it as the opposite of a normal school, where the "weird kids" were the popular kids, and the "popular" kind of kids didn't make it very far. Just by being validated by his teachers and peers, this strong introvert had become a social magnet and a well respected member of the community.

So introverts, let me know what your experience with this was growing up and even now, and if you feel like you fit the stereotype or not. Extroverts, please feel free to give your story as well, and let us know if there are certain things you felt you were discouraged to do, or ways in which you were grouped as well. Do you actually like most people? Do you often feel comfortable in public?
 

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We all know the stereotype that Extroverts are better with people and Introverts are awkward and shy. Many people go as far to say that introverts hate people, or that extroverts are more successful in life (which has been proven false numerous times). But where do these stereotypes come from, and why is it that we find so many people who fit into them?
I've given a lot of thought to the whole introvert-extrovert thing, although I am usually around extroverted sensors, so I admit that I probably think of them mostly when I hear the word "extrovert".

Extroverts generally don't understand introverts that well. They might think of them as shy, antisocial, reserved, or narcissistic. An extrovert could just as easily fit into any of those categories. If introverts were in the majority, extroverts might be (more publically) considered loud, attention seeking, annoying, or superficial- also stereotypes.

As far as "finding people who fit into them", I still wonder if the lables are being used correctly in those cases. When I see the news, I do get tired of hearing, "The murderer was quiet and kept to himself." ---That really doesn't mean that he is an introvert, even if it is true, but most people would think that it would.

I remember that when I was in school, extroversion was the expectation of all good children. If you didn't focus on the things and people around you as much, you were a freak. The teachers punished students who failed to work in groups and the parents encouraged their children to avoid "troubled children," meaning introverted ones. As soon as you entered the public school system, you were either a good kid or a bad kid: extroverted or introverted.
Frequent outward aggression would probably be stereotyped as extroversion. I would say that school bullies would be considered "extroverts", and the shy nerds would be "introverts". So in those cases, it would be different than you think.

(Again, I don't agree with this. I'm just addressing different stereotypes.)

As far as "troubled children" go, however, perhaps introverted children would be feared to have "implosions".

"It's always the quiet ones."

They are usually thought to be the ones that would bring a gun to school and shoot up the place. I've always hated this stereotype. Kids actually made jokes about me being the type of person who would do these things. So I do know where you're coming from here.

Even later in life this continues. When applying to most starting jobs your employer wants to hear that you do well in group work, that you're good at making conversation and that you like being in a crowd. Until you're doing skilled work, you're expected to take an interest in the things and people around you. Once again, the extroverts are put together while the introverts are left doing odd-end jobs or pretending to be someone else. Where have the introverts had much of a chance to learn socialization at this point? They were socially separated from the other kids all the way through college.
Well, if one is working in costumer service, then those skills you mention are necessary. I am an introvert, and I have worked in those types of jobs. I've never taken any test that asked if I "like being in a crowd". But they want to know that you are a "team player", etc.

The reason I bring this up is that I seriously question the relevance of socialization to extroversion versus introversion. These qualities describe our focus, not how nice or friendly or likable we are, and not how much we like people. Although introverts don't gain as much from social contact, it's usually no big downer to hang out with a few friends, and many of us are perfectly capable of being friendly with strangers.
Good point. I agree, but most people don't know this.

I met a young guy from the northeast who had gone to a selective private school for math. He was definitely introverted; this person could get completely lost in solving a problem until he forgot there were other people in the room. He needed a fair amount of alone time and had a selective, small group of friends. However, he was very far from antisocial. He was a high-energy, happy, positive person who easily spoke with strangers at work and outside of it. Everybody grew attached to this guy, even many strong extroverts, since he was so confident and socially adapted. What made this person stand out against all the other introverts in the room? The school he had gone to growing up was so focused on education, that extroversion was actually discouraged. He described it as the opposite of a normal school, where the "weird kids" were the popular kids, and the "popular" kind of kids didn't make it very far. Just by being validated by his teachers and peers, this strong introvert had become a social magnet and a well respected member of the community.
That's good.

To be honest though, this still sounds like stereotyping extroverts as popular, party animals. I've met some obviously extroverted nerds when I was in college. They made good grades, and were respected by the teachers- not just for their charisma- but they were definatley not introverts.

So introverts, let me know what your experience with this was growing up and even now, and if you feel like you fit the stereotype or not.
I know how to pass for "extrovert", or what people believe that an extrovert is. I have even thought that I might be one, because of some of the things that you mentioned here, but I'm not.

I don't have to fit my culture's definition of "socially awkward", although I have at certain moments.

I have been shy and reserved, but I have also been outgoing at different times throughout my life.

Being introverted just means that I have to recharge my battery.
 

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I tend to believe more that Extroverts draw their energy from external forces while Introverts draw their energy from internal sources. Somehow this has lead to some bad generalizations.

I have almost always been quite introverted. However, in school this wasn't a bad quality as I generally didn't cause trouble and in group situations would often do all the work and everyone else would just take an easy A that we all got because I could do all the work that was assigned without problems usually. Being as sensitives as I was didn't help either though. I was the kid that could be in tears within 2 seconds of starting to threaten me so bullies loved picking on me. While being the child that knew the answer and just did as he was told, I rarely got on many teacher's bad sides.

While I was a loner, I was also quite content with things that way. My peers would often be physically competitive or bullies that just didn't make me associate well with them. Meanwhile, my aunts, uncles and grandparents were easy for me to have conversations and enjoy spending time.

I was blessed, or cursed if you want to look at this negatively, by an overprotective mother that sheltered me and spoiled me greatly enough that my first job in the world went rather badly but I did learn a lot and got better at future employment situations. After that first experience where I was a kind of general IT worker, all my subsequent positions were either in web development or being a teaching assistant so I haven't had many jobs and the socialization in each can be surprisingly limited often. Knowing how computers work and think in an abstract logical fashion is quite the skill to have in the world.

Depending on what kind of context one is watching me I suspect I can come off as being on either end. Within my comfort zone in a well-defined role, I can seem quite extroverted yet I see this as just doing my duty and executing a series of steps to help move everything forward. This could be in a support group, working as a team either at my employer or a charity organization, or a few other social situations where there is usually adequate structure for me to use as a crutch. In other situations I can be more of a ghost that may not be noticed at all.

Depending on what I'm doing in public my comfort level can be all over the map. For example, if I'm walking through a mall or the street as part of my usual exercise routine I am quite comfortable. At the same time, if I'm walking somewhere I haven't been previously that can tend to make me be dramatically less comfortable. Do I have some place to be at a specific time?

In some ways even now I could argue that I'm not a social butterfly yet I have a number of different groups where I do stuff and enjoy having various experiences. For example, some are support groups for various medical conditions I have while others play cards or have geeky interests. I tend to bond more to the core of the group, what is there that binds all of us in the group. If this isn't that strong, such as in the case of a group of singles, then that group is a bit harder on me than others where I can feel a sense of confidence in knowing what likely topics of conversation will emerge. For example, within my geek group there can be all kinds of technology questions or discussions that I can enjoy to varying degrees. In the recent Disney movie, "Tangled," there were some geeks and myself watching it and we pondered a few things about the tower where the heroine lived. In particular, how did electricity get up to the top of the tower to power the stove that was up there? Where were the pipes for sewage or do these characters not need to go to the bathroom? These aren't likely to cross other people's minds but they were the kind of issue in our group where someone eventually went, "This isn't real!" which did get some of us to stop trying to have the discussion openly and just internally process what we saw and stuff.
 

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Thank you for the response @Daveman!

I have also been compared to a creepy ax murderer or a school shooter, and I never understood why. Kids will make jokes about very introverted people "having those murderous eyes" or "plotting all day" when we're really just lost in thought and not paying attention. It goes back to what I was saying about society assuming that introverts are unhealthy people, when really they're just more comfortable by themselves.

I've actually had a lot of my friends think I was extroverted. The people who know me best say it's obvious that I'm an introvert, but when I meet new people or talk to classmates now a lot of them would never guess. Although I have been guilty of fitting some of fitting some of the stereotypes in the past, I've been working on my people skills and I really like being somewhat social (talking to people from class and work, saying hi to people in the halls, hanging out with a small group of friends, etc.) The only problem is that I still need a lot of alone time, but at the moment I have more than enough. People have called me charming, easy to talk to, open, relatable, optimistic, and I've actually been told I have strong leadership skills.
 

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Introversion and Extroversion really do not factor into one's social capabilities. I am often perceived as an introvert because I prefer to be alone. But that is not introversion. I am often typed as an introvert because I am not socially graceful. That is not introversion. Extroversion means that you react to external stimuli and work inward. Introversion means that you react to internal stimuli and work outward. The product of this may be decreased social skills or increased social skills, depending on the kind of person you are, on how much you value social interaction. When I am doing something, I rather do it with someone else. When I am thinking, I think aloud, or I use someone to bounce my ideas off of. When I am learning something new, I want to see it in action, even if I can understand it in my mind. Extroversion is more related to the environment, introversion to the inner mind.
 

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I am glad that someone brought this up. I was SO frustrated at work today when my co workers tried to argue with me that I was Extroverted, not Introverted like I say I am. Mind you, these are professionals; Occupational, Speech and Physical Therapists. Um, are we not suppost to go to college and take some Psych? I explained the stereotypes were not true, that they were confusing this with being shy and even as I was gregarious, I am still introverted.

I was a total innie in school. I was terribly quiet and an easy target for bullies. I had a total of 2 friends that I was close to, but not at the same time. By Jr. High and High school, I would go home and shut myself in my room away from everyone at the end of a day to manage get away form everyone . I would go out with friends, but only one on one or maybe a couple at a time. It would tire me out too. I learned to shut off the outside and carried a book to read everywhere, so people would not try to start conversation and to manage all the peopleness(I focused on the book and not on the people). I now work in a rehab facility and deal with alot of people day in and out. I have learned to socialize and put on a good face, but I still sneak off to lunch alone to get breathing time, and I always have a book at hand to read and focus on to block out others. I hear alot of 'get out of your own world' because I am always inside my head thinking and processing and having my own conversations.

I am very friendly to my co workers and will talk up a storm, I have learned to do that and put up a good front. I enjoy people, I really do, but only for a time. I was very excited to get a boss that is INTJ. He observed me for awhile before saying "you are possibly as introverted as I am." quite neatly seeing through my E front. We hit it right off and I come and hide in his office on very busy days.

Now of course I am married to another innie, and our family consists of all innies with our youngest an outtie. She happily answers the phone while the rest of us avoid it, she goes and says hello to the neighbors for us, and introduces us all to her teachers, friends(which I cant keep straight as they are numerous) and their parents. Thank goodness we have an emmisary. I have always made sure she gets plenty of outside energy and was made to feel great about being an E, unlike how I was made to feel for being an I.
 

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As far as our sociability, the directing/informing scale of the Interaction styles (which factors with E/I) is more a determinant of how we relate to people. Extroverts express to others (to fulfill their need for external stimuli), while informatives are people focused and end up responding to or wanting interaction from others more.
 
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